By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
Well, is it spring or is it still winter? It’s a little hard to tell this year despite the arrival of Texas Week on South Padre Island.
The first couple of days of the infamous Spring Break party week were marred by chilly weather and even a little rain here and there. Things bounced back on Wednesday, however, as the day began with warmer, sunny skies and tufts of clouds cruising in the atmosphere like cotton balls aligned in ragged rows.
But even with the sun shining, the breeze still had a slight nip to it, and few of the Spring Break revelers I saw seemed to have any desire to stray from the safety of the sand to the still-chilly waters of the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, I chuckled to myself as I meandered through the crowd on the beach outside Clayton’s as a group of coeds who were standing closest to the water’s edge let out a collective gasp when an errant wave came up the shore farther than the ones before it. I guess it’s a bit surprising when your tootsies aren’t expecting a cold shock.
Nonetheless, I was ecstatic when I saw it was sunny out. The bright sunshine and the cool air mean good things for the menagerie of flowering plants I’ve assembled this year. I’ve got a tangle of Texas bluebonnets growing in a pot, and some impatiens enjoying the shade where their pot hangs beneath my eaves.
And I’ve also got a plant I had never seen before until I saw a photo of it on Facebook: a blue butterfly clerodendrum. And just as its name suggests, it features blossoms that look quite strikingly like blue butterflies.
This winter’s freezes hit the plants and trees in my neighborhood pretty hard. Near my patio, one mature tree — which has always displayed a full crown of large, waxy leaves no matter the season — was stripped of its entire canopy after those few weeks in December and January where temperatures dipped into the 20s and low 30s. That’s partly why I got the flowers — to bring a pop of color back to my patio.
That once verdant tree has always been a bright spot for insect activity, particularly these gorgeous, shiny, blue-black bees I think may be some sort of carpenter or mason bee. Or maybe a kind of bumblebee. I’m not the best at bee identification and would welcome some help in that department.
Regardless of what kind of bee they are, this past winter just about wiped them out after that tree lost all its leaves. I was afraid they’d be gone for good, but this week there was a bright spot of hope! As I went around soaking my thirsty flowers with a watering can, one of the large, plump bees buzzed by my head before making its wobbly way towards a small hole in the tree’s trunk.
And, tilting my head back to enjoy the dappled sunlight that filtered through the tree’s bare branches, I noticed they weren’t so bare, after all. Those branches closest to the sky have begun to sprout leaves again!
Spring has sprung, and Nature has shown she is definitely a goddess of renewal.
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